Miami Beach Is Cutting Back on Its Iconic Palms

Increasing the proportion of shade trees will make city more 'walkable and pleasant'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2021 1:14 PM CST
Miami Beach Is Cutting Back on Its Iconic Palms
Arecaceae palms account for more than half of Miami Beach's 48,900 trees.   (Getty Images/f11photo)

Miami Beach is planning to reduce the proportion of palm trees in the city's canopy—but authorities have reassured worried residents that it's not going to be Palmageddon. They say that instead of removing the iconic trees wholesale, they plan to plant more shade trees, and in projects where palm trees have to be removed, there will be more shade trees among the replacements. Authorities say adding more shade trees will fight the effects of climate change and make the city more "walkable and pleasant," the Guardian reports. They say shade trees like oaks and elms absorb hundreds of times more carbon dioxide than the local palm trees, and about 10 times as much rainfall. Palms currently make up around 55% of the city's trees; the plan calls for reducing the proportion to around 25% by 2050.

"Expanding shade canopy will enhance the city’s brand and quality of life,” Melissa Wheaton, environmental and sustainability director for Miami Beach, tells the Miami Herald. "Palms will continue to be a focal point along the city’s roads, green spaces and parks." The Herald reports that 22 current construction projects require the removal of around 1,000 palms and 500 shade trees. The city plans to replace them with around 900 palms and 900 shade trees. Opponents of the change include Miami Beach Commissioner Steven Meiner, who says cutting back on palms "will have a negative impact on our historic, cultural, and economic brand." (Read more Miami Beach stories.)

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